Your Presence is Your Greatest Gift
We all want the Holidays with our toddlers to be enjoyable, meaningful and memorable, and in part 3 of this holiday series I have just a few more simple suggestions to make the weeks ahead toddler friendly and fun for the whole family.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Include your children in the celebration, honor ritual and embrace fun.
Include your child in the celebration. Some of my best advice for making the holidays special for your child is to find ways to include your child in the festivities, including the creation and giving of gifts. Young children love to help and feel as if they are part of the ‘grown-up’ fun, so whether it’s making simple ornaments, decorating cards or helping to wrap gifts, these child-friendly activities include your child in the celebration. These activities also teach them the reciprocal feel-good effect of giving and receiving, and can help take the emphasis off of the “gimmies.” We recently had a gift exchange where my cousin’s two-year-old delighted and found great satisfaction in being the one to hand out (and then subsequently open up) all of the presents for the adults in the room.
Note: Avoid asking your child to help wrap gifts for other young ones. It will be difficult for your toddler to understand why the bright, new toy isn’t for them. Skip this battle by giving your child their uncle’s new pair of gloves to wrap!
Cooking is another way to include your child in the season’s festivities. Toddlers love to make a mess in the kitchen and making treats together can be fun for you, too. (Also, your family and friends will enjoy them even more knowing your child had a hand in making them). Cooking together is an activity you can begin with your toddler now that you can continue together for many years to come. This year, my preteen age son and I made jam that we delivered to his teachers. A new tradition has arrived!
Honor Ritual. Traditions build lasting memories through loving rituals that connect us to each other. Each time the annual ritual is revisited, it brings back memories and provides a warm and connected feeling as your child grows up. This year, take time to honor a ritual that is unique to your family. Maybe there is a recipe that has been passed down to you from your mother and your grandmother before that you can now pass on to your child. Over the years, I’ve heard about many wonderful family rituals and traditions including family snowman building, ice skating, visiting a favorite storefront or street decorated with holiday lights, and attending a holiday show. As a kid, I always loved snuggling up on the couch to watch the holiday TV specials– A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Grinch who Stole Christmas. In fact, I still love to watch them today and set them to record on the DVR!
Embrace Fun. I know I’ve said it throughout this series, but the less stress you put on yourself, and the more reasonable your expectations are for what you can accomplish and what your toddler can handle, the more fun you will have. Remember, the most joyful part of the holidays for your toddler is spending time with you. Your presence is your greatest gift. So limit the holiday running around as best you can, keep your expectations at the appropriate toddler level, and enjoy the time together. Wishing you a happy holiday and best wishes as we move into 2016.